Any time a famous creator from any medium, be it comic books, movies, or television, decides to grace the growing suburb of Webcomicville with their presence, it’s up to us, the media (stop laughing) to cover it. We are the ones who must ask the questions like, “Why use webcomics over the tried-and-true medium they usually work under?” and… ok, that’s pretty much the only question we need to ask.
But it’s a valid one and with the recent launch of Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s FreakAngels, a post-apocalyptic take of a partially-submerged London and the telepathic teenagers who may have submerged it, that question is also timely.
Luckily, this project is so huge and so anticipated, that bigger news outlets have conducted interviews with both Ellis and Duffield, interviews in which they asked this exact question. Chris Arrant of comics news site, Newsarama, found that Ellis’ answer in particular shows that he seems to understand the medium in which he is invading:
[…] ideal for a webcomic format, because artificial breaks every 22, 32 or even 48 pages just weren’t going to work. I realised that if I did it as a web project, I could let it find its own shape, like a novel, and that if anyone complained that they weren’t getting six plot points in a single chapter — well, I’m not charging them for it, am I? I’m figuring that, in a free model, enough people will just come along for the ride…
When pressed further about what convinced him the webcomics medium could work for this project, Ellis replied:
As far as how it works: it’s the TV model. FreakAngels is free-to-air, but the eventual collected editions will cost money. I can watch pretty much any tv show I want, on the box or on the net, but for something I like, I’d rather have the complete DVD handy.
Also, let’s face it, digital comics are going to be the point of tension in comics 2008. William [Christensen, EIC of Avatar Press, “publisher” of FreakAngels] agreed that it was time to pursue new avenues, and to fund a major webcomics initiative with no guarantee of revenues down the line, if for no other reason than to make the point — serious publishers need to be exploring different ways to put comics in front of people. So we’re trying this.
It’s very refreshing to see not only someone who knows something about webcomics before they come in but a well-respected creator like Warren Ellis ready to take advantage of the upsides to our growing medium. When asked about the decision to go webcomics, Duffield also had an educated answer ready:
I think the fact that it’s a webcomic is fantastic for a number of reasons. Firstly, I got into producing comics partly by reading webcomics. Seeing artists post their stuff online was so inspiring for me, and having made the journey to being published from posting my amateur comic on the web, it feels great to return and put something so substantial into the webcomic scene at large. Just as importantly though, a free webcomic with a commercial level of production and commitment is something I never would have imagined a few years ago, and is something I’m excited to be part of. I hope it will not only satisfy webcomic enthusiasts, but also attract a new type of readership who wouldn’t normally buy a comic book (I maintain that the only sort of person who doesn’t enjoy comics is the sort of person who hasn’t found the right comics).
So there you have it. Is this the future of webcomics, to be used as a much more accessible gateway for the print world? Regardless of the answer, the first update of FreakAngels, which includes the first six page episode, is a heck of a start to what could be one of the most memorable webcomics ever.